Titled Shared Air, this outdoor installation draws attention to the critical role trees play as “the lungs of the world.” At a time when being able to breathe is on many people’s minds, these pairs of lacy lung-shaped silhouettes, interspersed among the trees behind Overlook Hospital, remind us how essential both medicine and the environment are to our survival.
Located along the Summit Park Line, Shared Air is SPA’s second collaboration with the Summit Park Line Foundation and is dedicated in honor of Overlook President Alan Lieber and to all the Atlantic Health System healthcare professionals who valiantly battled the pandemic.
A graduate of New York’s Pratt Institute and a recent recipient of a NJ Fellowship for Sculpture, Kate Dodd has exhibited her artwork widely throughout New Jersey and in New York and California. Dodd frequently works with repurposed materials, using everything from discarded books to Styrofoam cups to create installations for a variety of venues, from museums and parks to schools and train stations.
“A certain amount of my artwork,” says Dodd, “responds to the question: What is there a lot of in the world that people don’t value? What can I do to give these materials value? A central part of art-making to me is turning nothing into something or turning raw materials into objects. And part of what making satisfies for me is the need to bring order to chaos. It doesn’t make sense to me to make new objects when the world is already so full of objects. And almost nothing seems as ever present and unwanted as plastic bottles.”
Woman in Heels
Inspired by West African Senufo sculpture, this figurative bronze demonstrates artist Willie Cole’s fondness for taking objects from western culture—in this case, the iconic female “power shoe”—and recasting them in a “tribal narrative.” Constructed entirely from previously-worn shoes, this kneeling, full-bodied figure is an attempt to “extract the spirit from the original object” while exploring what one critic has called “the fantasy that high heels have always made it their business to promote.”
A central facet of Cole’s work since the 1980s has been his creative use of high-heeled shoes, which he has recast into pieces resembling furniture, bouquets, masks, animals, and, as we see here, human forms.
This sculpted figure, titled Woman in Heels, is the latest version of a design that Cole has revisited over the years and was most recently seen in New York as part of his solo exhibit titled Bella Figura, which also featured African-style shoe masks and other shoe-inspired works. Cole often finds the shoes he uses in local thrift stores and says he draws inspiration from the wrinkles and creases—the “recorded memories”—left behind by the shoes’ previous wearers.
As he explains, “I’m letting the shoe lead me. If the shoe is pointing that way, I go that way. I’m pulling out the spirit of the shoe, or the wearer of the shoe. I’m not really dictating anything. . . . [The shoes] are the foundation. They’re close to the Earth. And they have memory. I can see the shoe take the shape of the foot that’s in it sometimes. So all those things are feeding my choices. Also, I’m not the first artist to use the shoe. Dalí made a hat out of a shoe. It’s almost like a readymade with a history.”
Born in Somerville, NJ and raised in Newark, Willie Cole studied at the School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League in New York. Best known for his assemblage works made from or with ordinary domestic and used objects such as shoes, irons and ironing boards that reference African and African-American experience, Cole has exhibited widely and his work can be found in the permanent collections of the Newark Museum, the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. A sculptor, painter, printer, and visual and conceptual artist, he lives and works in Newark.
The Baggage We Carry
Redistricting, Heights over Springfield , I Can’t Breathe
bottle caps, solar rope lights, yellow 550 paracord, hollow braided polyurethane rope, recycled commercial fishing net, zip ties, gold spray paint on recovered shopping cart
Titled The Baggage We Carry, Theda Sandiford’s meticulously collected assemblages of found objects reference both the traumatic events of the past year and the artist’s own personal attempts to deal with those events through her art. “We all carry emotional baggage,” she says. “We have the choice to let it define us or to let it go and move forward.”
With these carts, Sandiford explains, “I want to draw people in and spark their curiosity. Not only to discover what materials are used to create these sculptures, but to look within and recognize the emotional baggage they are carrying. Each cart is affixed with a solar panel. When the sun sets, the carts light up and take on a new meaning and form, glowing from within.”
About her process, she says: “I find things when I walk around. I’ll find a gear from a bicycle. I’ll see something broken. I’m seeing things all the time. Depending on what neighborhood I’m in, I can get a sense of who lives there by what they leave on the curb…. As you go through different neighborhoods, you’ll get to know who lives there.”
Born in Queens, Theda Sandiford has lived and worked in Jersey City since 1995. A self-taught mixed media artist, she often works with found objects, transforming them into works that weave together personal narratives and contemporary issues. A 2021 recipient of a NJ State Council on the Arts Fellowship, Sandiford has exhibited widely across New York and New Jersey, including a recent solo exhibition here in Summit at the Visual Arts Center of NJ.
“I started making art in 2004,” says Sandiford, “after someone said to me that I wasn’t expressing myself fully, and to ‘take the things you’re upset about and instead of dwelling on them, make art to release them.’ It was a suggestion that now is a life-line for me,” she says. “How do I get to happy if I’m confused? How do I find clarity? My work deals with identity and self-exploration. I’m not doing it just to make pretty things to enjoy. I’m doing it to be fully-realized.”
Broad Ordinary Occurrences
hydrocal white plaster
This large-scale plaster sculpture is meant to evoke what artist Karlis Rekevics calls “the unlovelier parts of the man-made environment which we habitually encounter but almost never register.” Using these references as his starting point, the Rekevics has constructed his own version of the surrounding urban landscape, subtly altering the character and proportion of his design to produce a work that is “rooted in real experience” but “tempered by recollection.”
The design for “Broad Ordinary Occurrences” was inspired in part by the urban architecture that Rekevics regularly encounters on his daily walks beneath the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway en route to his studio. Take a look beneath the slanting roof of the sculpture and you’ll find echoes of the underside of the BQE, with its curving overhangs and massive concrete pillars, the intricate infrastructure that underlies one of the city’s major arteries. But because this is a site-specific piece, you’ll also find echoes of the architecture that surrounds us here in Summit. (Hint: the tower-like post at the sculpture’s southwest corner was inspired by a similar feature found on a nearby local landmark.)
One of the great strengths of Rekevics’ work is that it encourages you to look more closely at the architecture around you. As you begin to look for the local sources of his work, you find yourself looking at the world like the artist himself and, in the process, gaining a new appreciation for the “broad ordinary occurrences” that shape our interactions with the world around us.
Karlis Rekevics lives and works in Brooklyn. Born in England of Latvian parents, he grew up in Rome, Baghdad, and Seattle and received his art education at the New York Studio School and the Hochschule der Kunst, Berlin. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in shows at PS1, the Sculpture Center, and the Whitney Museum of American Art at ALTRIA and reviewed in such publications as The New York Times, Sculpture magazine, and Art in America.
Designed by artist Steve Szynal, City Lights uses colored effects to create uplifting and visually appealing light displays at prominent landmarks around Summit. The displays change color (green for Earth Day, blue for nurses, the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad, Overlook Medical Center, and other local frontline heroes) to mark special occasions and to honor members of the Summit community. Look for the lights at City Hall and also at the roundabout across from the Summit train station.
A graduate of Penn State University, Steve Szynal is a licensed architect, artist, and lighting designer. As the owner of the Summit-based firm S + S Lighting Design, he has created lighting for projects ranging from hotels to corporate headquarters to historical landmark buildings in New Jersey, New York, and across the United States. Steve also draws upon his design experience to create original hand-cut, multi-dimensional, mixed media collages and oil painting, often of New York landmarks from Times Square to Wall Street. He also specializes in sports scenes. His unique artworks can be found in the collections of a number of celebrities, including Jerry Seinfeld and Michael Jordan, and also in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Keith Haring, Tree of Life
Basquiat, Paints Like a Child
Lee Krasner, Sun Woman
Laurence de Valmy
Acrylic on vinyl
Titled POST, these three banners, designed to look like Instagram posts, invite us to reflect on the relationship between art and social media. Inspired by the personal stories of the artists Keith Haring, Lee Krasner, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, the banners feature de Valmy’s own hand-painted renditions of iconic artworks juxtaposed with imagined conversations between the artists and their contemporaries. Asking “What if Instagram had always existed?”, the works pay tribute to the artists while exploring the impact of viewing art on a screen instead of in person.
“I love art history,” says de Valmy, “but above all I’m fascinated by personal stories and relationships: how artists were connected with other artists, art dealers, writers, their lovers, etc. What made them create their work? Or for whom did they do it? My goals are to share the stories behind the works, the links between the artists and to bring my viewers to consider these emblematic works with renewed interest by placing them in the context of their creation. By appropriating the works, I pay tribute to their authors and play with the concept of originality. That’s what my series is about.”
Originally from France, Laurence de Valmy lives and works in Philadelphia. Her work has been widely exhibited abroad and in the United States with solo shows in New York and Paris. In 2018, she exhibited along Andy Warhol in Munich at the Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art (MUCA) and in 2020 her work appeared on HBO alongside Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant in the Golden Globe-nominated series The Undoing. When not in her studio, she writes about art for her blog (@laurencedevalmy) and is a contributor to Femmes d’Art and French Quarter Magazine.
Location: MONDO building on the Summit Promenade
A special thanks to Annette Dwyer at MONDO for graciously allowing us to exhibit POST on the Promenade.
12’ x 9’ x 9’
Welded steel, salvaged acrylic, LED lights
Inspired by Argentina’s colorful “kioscos,” or corner stores, Tom Fruin’s Maxikiosco celebrates the familiar neighborhood structures that serve as both community centers and sources of nourishment, its vibrant colors reflecting the vibrancy and variety of city life. Constructed from recycled plexiglas and reclaimed steel, Fruin’s illuminated art house creates a sense of wonder through the abstract collision of light and color, becoming a “kaleidoscope of color” during the day and a “beacon of light” at night.
Drawing on what he calls “the ephemera of the city,” Fruin seeks to present “a profoundly optimistic message—that discarded elements once seen as waste can be transformed into positive and progressive symbols.” Likewise, by presenting “everyday structures in a new way,” he aims to create works that “refocus attention back on the original,” turning “overlooked infrastructural items” into something “fantastical” and new.
Tom Fruin was born and raised in Los Angeles has lived and worked in Brooklyn since the 1990s. Often working with “forgotten” or cast-off materials, Fruin takes on urban objects such as houses, billboards, and flags, elevating their form to emblematic status and architectural scale. Best known for his iconic Watertower sculpture, which can be seen from both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, he has exhibited his work internationally and his art can be found in many permanent collections in the U.S., Europe, and Argentina.